What’s the fuss about Superfast Broadband?
Why firms with super-fast connections are fitter, happier and more productive than their rivals.
For many businesses, the current economic climate means clamping down on unnecessary expenditure and keeping costs under strict control. That’s sensible. We did it too. But it’s important to ensure that saving a few pennies here won’t cost you thousands in the long run.
The way we do business is changing, and firms that don’t embrace those changes could see their rivals prosper. No business can afford to be left behind, especially when the government’s willing to give you some cash to keep your business up to date. How does £3,000 sound?
THE FIBRE FIZZ
Right now, it’s all about fibre broadband. The UK government really wants businesses to embrace fast broadband, and it’s offering grants for firms that do.
The Connection Vouchers scheme offers up to £3,000 per business to cover the costs of upgrading to super-fast broadband, and their definition of business includes small – mid sized enterprises, charities, landlords and sole traders.
The money isn’t just a giveaway. It’s an investment for the UK Government. Firms that embrace super-fast broadband and its associated technologies grow more quickly, have wider and more varied customer bases and consistently outperform rival firms that don’t use the same technologies. And that growth is good for everyone.
Those results are remarkably consistent across industries and across countries, so for example, the Superfast Cornwall project in England reported that 22% of participating firms had boosted their revenues, 38% reported better sales lead generation and 50% reported business growth, all due to fibre-optic broadband.
It’s worth noting that the surveys took place just six months after the businesses were connected to super-fast broadband, so it clearly doesn’t take long for organisations to feel the benefits.
The same trend is visible globally. A recent study by the Boston Consulting Group of more than 4,000 small to medium businesses found that the ones embracing better communications grew revenues 15% faster than rivals. What’s their secret? What’s so fantastic about super-fast connections?
Super-fast broadband makes a lot of things not just possible, but desirable. Cloud computing, where someone else manages the IT hardware and software your business’s applications use, is as fast and as reliable as having the hardware on site. You get all the benefits without the upfront costs of buying, maintaining and supporting the hardware and software.
If your business is seasonal or prone to varying demand, cloud computing could save you even more. That’s because it’s scalable, so when you need more power it’s as easy as turning on a tap – and when you’re finished, you can turn the tap off again. That’s much more efficient than rushing to buy new hardware to cope with seasonal variations only to see those expensive assets sitting idle (and depreciating like crazy) when things quieten down.
Cloud computing is also very useful for fast-growing businesses, as it enables them to add extra capacity as they expand without the headaches of upgrading legacy systems that might not have been designed for bigger things.
There are other benefits.
- Super-fast broadband can massively reduce communications costs and business travel by delivering Voice over IP (VoIP) calling and reliable videoconferencing.
- Online document editing and collaboration can reduce your printing costs – the office isn’t quite paperless, but it’s getting there – and the ability to send enormous files almost instantly cuts the courier bill considerably. Remote, flexible and home working can make better use of your assets, make your people more productive and reduce your carbon footprint too.
- Super-fast broadband isn’t just for offices. The arrival of fast mobile broadband and devices such as smartphones and iPads means that for many businesses, their staff can connect with customers and access crucial information, create customised quotations or process sales orders from anywhere. That’s good, because that’s increasingly what customers expect – and in some cases, demand.
THE MARTINI MODEL – ANY TIME, ANY PLACE, ANY WHERE
For most of us, the 9 to 5 is a distant memory. Modern businesses don’t sleep: websites provide information, accept queries and process orders 24/7, and customers contact not just by phone but by email and on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Staff can work from anywhere and respond even more effectively. It’s all about speed, whether that’s responding to customer queries or putting out potential fires on social media before they spread.
WHAT CONNECTION VOUCHERS BRING TO THE TABLE
Connection vouchers can give your business up to £3,000 towards the cost of upgrading to super-fast broadband. The scheme is available in 50 UK cities and runs until March 2016, and the eligibility criteria are pretty straightforward:
- You must be an SME, charity, social enterprise or sole trader
- The connection is for your business premises (that could be your home if that’s your base, or a rental property if you’re a landlord)
- The connection will be faster than what’s already there
- The installation cost is more than £100
As a rule of thumb, if your business is turning over less than £40m per year and you employ fewer than 250 people, you may be eligible for a connection voucher.
Would you like to know more? Come and talk to us. We’re a Registered Supplier and we’ve already helped stacks of local businesses benefit from the vouchers and from the benefits super-fast broadband brings.